Minoru Yamasaki

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Minoru Yamasaki
Minoru Yamasaki.jpg
Native name
山崎 實
Born(1912-12-01)December 1, 1912
DiedFebruary 6, 1986(1986-02-06) (aged 73)
Alma mater University of Washington, New York University
Spouse(s)Teruko Hirashiki
Projects Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, Torre Picasso, Rainier Tower, IBM Building, World Trade Center, Pruitt–Igoe
DesignInspiration by Gothic architecture and usage of narrow vertical windows

Minoru Yamasaki(山崎 實,Yamasaki Minoru, 1 December 1912 – 6 February 1986) [1] [2] [3] was an American architect, best known for designing the original World Trade Center in New York City and several other large-scale projects. [4] Yamasaki was one of the most prominent architects of the 20th century. He and fellow architect Edward Durell Stone are generally considered to be the two master practitioners of "New Formalism". [5]

Architect Person trained to plan and design buildings, and oversee their construction

An architect is a person who plans, designs and reviews the construction of buildings. To practice architecture means to provide services in connection with the design of buildings and the space within the site surrounding the buildings that have human occupancy or use as their principal purpose. Etymologically, architect derives from the Latin architectus, which derives from the Greek, i.e., chief builder.

World Trade Center (1973–2001) Former skyscraper complex in Manhattan, New York

The original World Trade Center was a large complex of seven buildings in the Financial District of Lower Manhattan, New York City, United States. It opened on April 4, 1973, and was destroyed in 2001 during the September 11 attacks. At the time of their completion, the Twin Towers — the original 1 World Trade Center, at 1,368 feet (417 m); and 2 World Trade Center, at 1,362 feet (415.1 m)—were the tallest buildings in the world. Other buildings in the complex included the Marriott World Trade Center, 4 WTC, 5 WTC, 6 WTC, and 7 WTC. The complex contained 13,400,000 square feet (1,240,000 m2) of office space.

Edward Durell Stone American architect

Edward Durell Stone was an American architect known for the formal, highly decorative buildings he designed in the 1950s and 1960s. His works include the Museum of Modern Art, in New York City, the United States Embassy in New Delhi, India, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.


Early life and education

Yamasaki was born in Seattle, Washington, the son of John Tsunejiro Yamasaki and Hana Yamasaki, Japanese descendants. [6] [4] The family later moved to Auburn, Washington and he graduated from Garfield Senior High School in Seattle. He enrolled in the University of Washington program in architecture in 1929, and graduated with a Bachelor of Architecture (B.Arch.) in 1934. [7] During his college years, he was strongly encouraged by faculty member Lionel Pries. He earned money to pay for his tuition by working at an Alaskan salmon cannery. [8]

Seattle City in Washington, United States

Seattle is a seaport city on the West Coast of the United States. It is the seat of King County, Washington. With an estimated 744,955 residents as of 2018, Seattle is the largest city in both the state of Washington and the Pacific Northwest region of North America. According to U.S. Census data released in 2018, the Seattle metropolitan area's population stands at 3.94 million, and ranks as the 15th largest in the United States. In July 2013, it was the fastest-growing major city in the United States and remained in the top 5 in May 2015 with an annual growth rate of 2.1%. In July 2016, Seattle was again the fastest-growing major U.S. city, with a 3.1% annual growth rate. Seattle is the northernmost large city in the United States.

Washington (state) state of the United States of America

Washington, officially the State of Washington, is a state in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. Named for George Washington, the first U.S. president, the state was made out of the western part of the Washington Territory, which was ceded by Britain in 1846 in accordance with the Oregon Treaty in the settlement of the Oregon boundary dispute. The state, which is bordered on the west by the Pacific Ocean, by Oregon to the south, by Idaho to the east, and the Canadian province of British Columbia to the north, was admitted to the Union as the 42nd state in 1889. Olympia is the state capital; the state's largest city is Seattle. Washington is often referred to as Washington State to distinguish it from the nation's capital, Washington, D.C..

Auburn, Washington City in Washington, United States

Auburn is a city in King County, with a small portion in Pierce County, Washington, United States. The population was 70,180 at the 2010 United States Census. Auburn is a suburb in the Seattle metropolitan area, currently ranked the fifteenth largest city in the state of Washington.

After moving to New York City in the 1930s, he enrolled at New York University for a master's degree in architecture and got a job with the architecture firm Shreve, Lamb & Harmon, designers of the Empire State Building. In 1945, Yamasaki moved to Detroit, where he was hired by Smith, Hinchman & Grylls. [9] The firm helped Yamasaki avoid internment as a Japanese-American during World War II, and he himself sheltered his parents in New York City. [6] [10] Yamasaki left the firm in 1949, and started his own partnership. [9] He worked out of Birmingham and Troy, Michigan. One of the first projects he designed at his own firm was Ruhl's Bakery at 7 Mile Road and Monica Street in Detroit. [11] In 1964, Yamasaki received a D.F.A. from Bates College.

New York City Largest city in the United States

The City of New York, usually called either New York City (NYC) or simply New York (NY), is the most populous city in the United States. With an estimated 2018 population of 8,398,748 distributed over a land area of about 302.6 square miles (784 km2), New York is also the most densely populated major city in the United States. Located at the southern tip of the state of New York, the city is the center of the New York metropolitan area, the largest metropolitan area in the world by urban landmass and one of the world's most populous megacities, with an estimated 19,979,477 people in its 2018 Metropolitan Statistical Area and 22,679,948 residents in its Combined Statistical Area. A global power city, New York City has been described as the cultural, financial, and media capital of the world, and exerts a significant impact upon commerce, entertainment, research, technology, education, politics, tourism, art, fashion, and sports. The city's fast pace has inspired the term New York minute. Home to the headquarters of the United Nations, New York is an important center for international diplomacy.

New York University private research university in New York, NY, United States

New York University (NYU) is a private research university based in New York City. Founded in 1831, NYU's historical campus is in Greenwich Village, Lower Manhattan. NYU also has degree-granting campuses in Abu Dhabi and Shanghai, and academic centers in Accra, Berlin, Buenos Aires, Florence, London, Los Angeles, Madrid, Paris, Prague, Sydney, Tel Aviv, and Washington, D.C.

Shreve, Lamb & Harmon architectural firm

Shreve, Lamb, and Harmon, founded as Shreve & Lamb, was an architectural firm, best known for designing the Empire State Building, the tallest building in the world at the time of its completion in 1931.

His firm, Yamasaki & Associates, closed on December 31, 2009. [12]

Yamasaki Associates, Inc. was an architectural firm based in Troy, Michigan. Its founder, Minoru Yamasaki was well known for his design of the twin towers of the World Trade Center.


His first internationally recognized design, the Pacific Science Center with its iconic arches, was constructed by the City of Seattle for the 1962 Seattle World's Fair. [6] His first significant project was the Pruitt–Igoe housing project in St. Louis in 1955. Despite his love of Japanese traditional design, this was a stark, modernist concrete structure. The housing project experienced so many problems that it was demolished in 1972, less than twenty years after its completion. Its destruction is considered by some to be the beginning of postmodern architecture. [4]

Pacific Science Center Science center in Washington, USA

Pacific Science Center is an independent, non-profit science center in Seattle, Washington with a mission to ignite curiosity and fuel a passion for discovery, experimentation, and critical thinking. Pacific Science Center serves more than 1 million people each year at its campus adjacent to Seattle Center, at the Mercer Slough Environmental Education Center in Bellevue, Washington, and in communities and classrooms across the state of Washington.

Century 21 Exposition worlds fair

The Century 21 Exposition was a world's fair held April 21, 1962, to October 21, 1962, in Seattle, Washington. Nearly 10 million people attended the fair.

The Wendell O. Pruitt Homes and William Igoe Apartments, known together as Pruitt–Igoe, were joint urban housing projects first occupied in 1954 in the US city of St. Louis, Missouri. Living conditions in Pruitt–Igoe began to decline soon after completion in 1956. By the late 1960s, the complex had become internationally infamous for its poverty, crime, and racial segregation. All 33 buildings were demolished with explosives in the mid-1970s, and the project has become an icon of failure of urban renewal and of public-policy planning.

In 1955, he also designed the "sleek" terminal at Lambert–St. Louis International Airport which led to his 1959 commission to design the Dhahran International Airport in Saudi Arabia. In the 1950s, Yamasaki was commissioned by the Reynolds Company to design an aluminum-wrapped building in Southfield, Michigan, which would "symbolize the auto industry's past and future progress with aluminum." [13] The three-story glass building wrapped in aluminum, known as the Reynolds Metals Company's Great Lakes Sales Headquarters Building, was also supposed to reinforce the company's main product and showcase its admirable characteristics of strength and beauty. [14] During this period, he created a number of office buildings which led to his innovative design of the 1,360 ft (410 m) towers of the World Trade Center in 1964, which began construction March 21, 1966. [15] The first of the towers was finished in 1970. [16] Many of his buildings feature superficial details inspired by the pointed arches of Gothic architecture, and make use of extremely narrow vertical windows. This narrow-windowed style arose from his own personal fear of heights. [17] One particular design challenge of the World Trade Center's design related to the efficacy of the elevator system, which was unique in the world. Yamasaki integrated the fastest elevators at the time, running at 1,700 feet per minute. Instead of placing a large traditional elevator shaft in the core of each tower, Yamasaki created the Twin Towers' "Skylobby" system. The Skylobby design created three separate, connected elevator systems which would serve different segments of the building, depending on which floor was chosen, saving approximately 70% of the space used for a traditional shaft. The space saved was then used for office space. [18]

Reynolds Group Holdings is a New Zealand based packaging company with roots in the former Reynolds Metals Company, which was the second-largest aluminum company in the United States, and the third-largest in the world. Reynolds Metals was acquired by Alcoa in June 2000.

Gothic architecture Style of architecture

Gothic architecture is a style that flourished in Europe during the High and Late Middle Ages. It evolved from Romanesque architecture and was succeeded by Renaissance architecture. Originating in 12th-century France, it was widely used, especially for cathedrals and churches, until the 16th century.

Acrophobia An extreme or irrational fear of heights

Acrophobia is an extreme or irrational fear or phobia of heights, especially when one is not particularly high up. It belongs to a category of specific phobias, called space and motion discomfort, that share both similar causes and options for treatment.

In 1978, Yamasaki designed the Federal Reserve Bank tower in Richmond, Virginia. The work was designed with a similar appearance as the World Trade Center complex, with its narrow fenestration, and now stands at 394 ft (120 m). [19] [20]

Yamasaki was a member of the Pennsylvania Avenue Commission, created in 1961 to restore the grand avenue in Washington, D.C., but resigned after disagreements and disillusionment with the design by committee approach. [21]

After partnering with Emery Roth and Sons on the design of the World Trade Center, they collaborated on other projects including new buildings at Bolling Air Force Base in Washington, D.C. [22]

The campus for the University of Regina was designed in tandem with Yamasaki's plan for Wascana Centre, a park built around Wascana Lake in Regina, Saskatchewan. The original campus design was approved in 1962. Yamasaki was awarded contracts to design the first three buildings: the Classroom Building; the Laboratory Building; and the Dr. John Archer Library, which were built between 1963 and 1967. [23]

Yamasaki designed two notable synagogues during this period, North Shore Congregation Israel in Glencoe, Illinois in 1964 and Temple Beth El, in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan in 1973. He designed a number of buildings on the campus of Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota between 1958 and 1968. [24]

Personal life

Yamasaki was first married in 1941 to Teruko "Teri" Hirashiki. They divorced in 1961 and Yamasaki married Peggy Atty. He and Atty divorced two years later and Yamasaki would marry a third time briefly before remarry Teruko in 1961. In a 1969 Detroit News article about the remarriage, Yamasaki said "I'm just going to be nicer to her". [25]

Honors and Legacy

See also


  1. Rimer, Sara (February 9, 1986). "Minoru Yamasaki, Architect of World Transit Center, Dies". The New York Times . Retrieved November 22, 2016.
  2. Murphy, Dean (February 9, 1986). "Architect Minoru Yamasaki Dies at 73: Designs Include Century Plaza Towers, N.Y. World Trade Center". The Los Angeles Times . Retrieved November 22, 2016.
  3. "World Trade Center architect's grave". Flickr. Retrieved 2018-07-01.
  4. 1 2 3 Davidson, Justin (August 27, 2011). "The Encyclopedia of 9/11: Yamasaki, Minoru: An architect whose legacy didn't work out as he'd planned". New York .
  5. "Architecture and Design of the Music Center". Performing Arts Center of Los Angeles County. Archived from the original on October 11, 2014. Retrieved March 30, 2011.Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help); excerpting from HABS documentation: "Los Angeles Music Center". Historic American Building Survey.
  6. 1 2 3 Crowley, Walt (3 March 2003). "Yamasaki, Minoru (1912-1986), Seattle-born architect of New York's World Trade Center". HistoryLink.org. Retrieved 2012-11-17.
  7. 1 2 Esterow, Milton (21 September 1962). "Architect Named for Trade Center". The New York Times .
  8. "Center Will Reflect Architectural Collaboration". The New York Times. January 19, 1964.
  9. 1 2 Huxtable, Ada Louise (November 25, 1962). "Pools, Domes, Yamasaki - Debate" . The New York Times.
  10. "Minoru Yamasaki 1912-". encyclopedia.com. Retrieved 2012-03-15.
  11. Interview with owner's daughter. Original architectural drawings donated to the University of Michigan.
  12. Gallagher, John (28 January 2010). "A Once Eminent Firm Meets a Bitter End". Architectural Record . Retrieved 2012-11-17.
  13. "Reynolds Review". Reynolds Review (company magazine). Reynolds Metals Papers, Virginia Historical Society. 1959.
  14. Ong Yan, Grace (2012). "Wrapping Aluminum at the Reynolds Metals Company". Design and Culture. 4 (3): 299–323. Retrieved September 18, 2019.
  15. Remarks by the Hon. Richard J. Hughes, World Trade Center Press Conference, New York Hilton Hotel, January 18, 1964.
  16. "History of the Twin Towers". Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Retrieved 2014-12-12.
  17. James, Glanz; Lipton, Eric (2003). City in the sky: the rise and fall of the World Trade Center. Macmillan. p. 109. ISBN   978-0-8050-7428-4.
  18. Remarks by Lee K. Jaffee, World Trade Center Press Conference, New York Hilton Hotel, January 18, 1964.
  19. "Federal Reserve Bank Building, Richmond". Emporis. Retrieved 2018-09-11.
  20. "Federal Reserve Bank". Architecture Richmond. Retrieved 2018-09-11.
  21. Huxtable, Ada Louise (2 February 1964). "N.Y.C. Architectural Ups and Downs". The New York Times.
  22. Robbins, William (26 March 1967). "2 Firms Are Welding Abilities to Plan World Trade Center". The New York Times. Retrieved 2012-11-17.
  23. Riddell, William A. The First Decade, 1960-1970. Regina: University of Regina, 1974. pp.91-95.
  24. "Why is my Dorm so Ugly?". Carleton College. 24 February 2009. Retrieved 2012-11-17.
  25. "Minoru Yamasaki, world-class architect". The Detroit News. August 14, 1998. Retrieved 2019-09-18.
  26. "Horace Mann corporate headquarters doubles as architectural landmark". The State Journal-Register . Springfield, Illinois. 5 September 2015. Retrieved 2 February 2017.
  27. "Art: The Road to Xanadu". Time . LXXXI (3): cover. 18 Jan 1963.

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